Dianne Kornberg and Celia Bland

The Education of the Virgin


Virgin Mary never goes where she’s unwanted.

She bows her head to the ecstatic eradicators: tribe haters,
       sex haters, haters of the poor. 

If they bulldoze her hovel, she has a cousin
       in Babylonia; although moving, for Virgin Mary,
       predicates cosmological occurrences, avian messengers –
       and then there are tickets and passes.

She turns up her palms to heaven.
       A fine dust collects.

Virgin Mary has never ventured to the caves of Texas
       where bats – “little shudders” – breed like memories.

She has none, you know; no packed bags at Union Station
       where bats press themselves flat
       against the peeling ceilings. No shuddering
       regrets electrify her epidermis like the flit of donkey’s ear.

This defines her innocence: the sadness
       she feels for souls consigned to places always cold,
       where the only lights are flickers of consciousness
       we bring with us.

Life was a book Virgin Mary conned
       until that death, so public, the sap dripping along his legs slow
       as the unconscious delineation of justice and error.

Getting down his body – unhooking
       his hands like drapes from a rod –
       only to stop a hole.

Madonna of the Cigarette Machine

Drop your pocket change into my slot.

Modulated by slim levers and a semi-colon

soft packets – one   two      three

slip along my galvanized trough
once you pull these yellowing knobs. 

A simple mechanism, yes, but

miraculous this
sweet contraction and
and a book of matches.

Madonna Bomb



There are no words to describe the way she hunches
                  belly resting on thigh, key turned on and she cannot
                  turn it off, working the brake with her other foot.  It’s hard to see
                  into the distance, sitting like that. 

She drives a dichotomous street,
                  the blood flowing in and out, birth and death, every turn
                  leading to this one and a line of Hummers, the check point
                  where she must slow. 

They will not like her duct-tape mittens
                  (as if her hands were very cold) but she cannot roll
                  down the window with her hands stuck at 10 and 2.

Is it very hot inside her womb as she moves
                  faster down the street we all travel?
                  Does she cry, “My God, my God!” or merely “Mary!” ?

She has ever eschewed the first person pronoun, savoring “I” like
                  a phosphorescence.  It’s all the same, isn’t it, whether she
                  is dead before or after impact?

Turn your hands up to heaven.
                  Let the eyes of your palms, flaccid
                  as the maws of lilies,
                  look to those clouds.

What passes there casts shadows
                  that move away from where they’re going
                  and towards you.

Dianne Kornberg

Following a retrospective exhibition of her photographs of specimens collected for scientific study, Dianne Kornberg retired from teaching in 2008 as a Professor Emerita at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. She relocated her studio to an outer island in the San Juans in Washington State. Since that time she has been collaborating with two poets, making large-scale, hybrid prints that are photo-based but also incorporate drawing, painting, software artifacts and appropriated imagery and text.

Kornberg earned an MFA in painting from Indiana University in 1970. In 1980 she took up photography. In the 1990s she began exhibiting large-scale, fiber-based, gelatin silver prints throughout the US and abroad. She has shown work in more than twenty-five solo exhibitions.

Kornberg’s work is in several important collections, including those of the International Center for Photography, the Princeton Art Museum, the Houston Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, the Henry Gallery, and the Embassy in Belize.

Her work appears in book publications including Contemporary Art of the Northwest (Craftsman House, 1995), 100 Artists of the West Coast (Schiffer Publishing, 2003), and Portland Art Museum, Selections from the Collection.

Celia Bland

Celia Bland teaches poetry at Bard College, where she is Writer-in-Residence and the International Coordinator for the Institute of Writing and Thinking.  In the last year she has led workshops in Berlin, Vilnius, the West Bank, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is the author of Soft Box: Poems (CavanKerry), which won ForeWord magazine’s Silver Medal, and Madonna Comix (f8), a word & image collaboration with artist Dianne Kornberg (http://madonnacomix.com/about/).  Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Narrative Review (where her poem, “Wasps,” won Poem of the Year), Witness, Green Mountains Review, Lumina, et al.